photoshop creative

Increase saturation with the Sponge tool

Posted in:
Magazine, by The Photoshop Creative Team
July 27, 2011

The Sponge tool is an excellent way of boosting the saturation of colours. Here’s a quick look at how it works

Issue 77 of Photoshop Creative is packed with tips and advice for helping you make quick and easy edits to make your images the best they can be. Here’s one of our quick fixes for adding a healthy boost of colour to a washed-out image.


One fell swoop

Click here to open up the start file and go to Layer>Duplicate. Click the Sponge tool from the Toolbar, scoot up to the Options and click the brush icon. Pick a large soft brush (we went for 800px), make sure Saturate is selected from the Mode menu and set Flow to 100%. Brush over the entire image in one go for an initial colour boost.



Sky attention

Things are already looking better, but we can do more to help this image. Pick the Magic Wand and set the Tolerance to 67. Click on the sky – all of it should be selected (if not, hold down Shift and click the missing areas to add). Click back on the Sponge tool and set Flow to 50%. Brush over the selected sky in one go.



Down below

Go to Select>Inverse to select the buildings and water, then set the Flow to 20%. Brush over this area to brighten it a touch. The more times you go over an area, the more intense the saturation will be.

  • I’ve never really used the sponge tool on photoshop and was very skeptical about it’s use to enhance the colour without increasing colour noise that would ruin the image and make it fail photo-library standards. I have given it a try out on a photograph that was very dull on an overcast day. I can say that I am amazed ! Even the grey sky can be made blue to some extent and without any hint of colour noise when viewed at size 100% I shall certainly remember this trick. Thanks

  • Morton Myles

    What a brilliant (no pun intended) way to boost the colors. It is simplicity personified!
    Thank you,
    Morton Myles

  • As I cannot put a comment in full, you have the wrong tool. It should be the burn tool you are trying to demonstrate for this effect.